The Odyssey Trust, owners of the Stena Line Belfast Giants and The SSE Arena, are delighted to announce the NCAA Division One ice-hockey teams who will travel to Belfast, Northern Ireland in 2019 for the first international NCAA women’s hockey games and the Friendship Four tournament on Friday 29th and Saturday 30th November 2019.
2019’s edition will mark the fifth time the tournament will be played in Belfast and Odyssey Trust Chairman Eric Porter welcomed the Universities to Northern Ireland for the latest instalment of this prestigious tournament. The Belfast City Council’s Sister City agreement with Boston has played a vital role in helping to host this prestigious tournament since 2015.
The 2019 edition of the tournament will feature some familiar faces with both Colgate University and Northeastern University returning to Belfast. After competing in the inaugural Friendship Four tournament in 2015, Northeastern University completed one of the biggest turnarounds in college hockey history en-route to the Hockey East title.
The Colgate and Northeastern will be joined by two newcomers to Northern Ireland with the Princeton University Tigers and the University of New Hampshire Wildcats competing for the first time.
In addition to the mens’ games, the Odyssey Trust has announced that the first international NCAA women’s hockey games will be played in Belfast in January 2019.
Northeastern University and Clarkson University women’s hockey teams will be the first NCAA women’s teams to compete internationally games at The SSE Arena Belfast. The games will be at the highest standards in women’s hockey with the 2018 NCAA Champions, Clarkson University Golden Knights, making their first trip to Belfast.
These top female athletes will be helping to encourage greater opportunities for women and girls to get involved in grassroots sports while they visit Northern Ireland.
These newest announcements will ensure the legacy of the Friendship Four will continue for years to come. Hockey fans will not have to wait long to see more college hockey in Belfast, the 2018 instalment of the Friendship Four will feature Boston University, UConn, Yale and Union College competing for the prestigious Belpot trophy on November 23rd and 24th 2018.
The Friendship Four in 2015, 2016 and 2017 was a huge success as the Odyssey Trust opened the doors of W5 as well as The SSE Arena, Belfast for tens of thousands of young people to take part in the festival of ice-hockey and STEM events. The 2015 event marked the first time that NCAA college ice-hockey was played outside of North America.